HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s decision in late 2014 to cut former Vice President Joice Mujuru loose from both his warring Zanu PF party and the government is increasingly looking like a monumental political blunder.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that many ruling party bigwigs were ruing the decision to expel Mujuru and her close allies from the party, as this had left the former liberation movement even more divided and facing the real prospects of losing power in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
“What started off as not-so-toxic factional banter has now turned into a nightmare of gigantic proportions for the party — with the real prospect that she (Mujuru) may now face the president in the 2018 presidential elections, if Gushungo (Mugabe) will be standing in those elections.
“I can tell you that that is not what anyone in the party anticipated would happen, and given the state of the movement (Zanu PF and its worsening factional and succession wars), who can say with certainty how those elections will pan out,” a senior party official said.
The fearful Zanu PF bigwig spoke as Mujuru is scheduled to address her first media conference in Harare today since she left the ruling party to form the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) — a highly-anticipated press engagement that is already setting tongues wagging.
Addressing Zanu PF supporters at his 92nd birthday celebrations that were held at the Great Zimbabwe monuments in Masvingo at the weekend, Mugabe — the only leader that Zimbabweans have had since the country’s independence from Britain in April 1980 — took aim at Mujuru, claiming that her party would soon fracture along factional lines.
Analysts said the fact that Mugabe had used his birthday party to take a swipe at Mujuru and ZPF underlined the fact that the nonagenarian now took the new political outfit very seriously, in the wake of Zanu PF’s escalating internal ructions.
The Daily News is also reliably informed that among the people who attended Mujuru’s meeting with war veterans at the weekend are some senior Zanu PF personalities and prominent supporters — a development that can only worsen the jitters currently permeating the ranks of the ruling party.
A buoyant People First spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, said yesterday that he fully understood why Mugabe and Zanu PF were now “fixated” with what was happening within ZPF, adding that the ruling party was “desperate to destroy” the newly-formed party.
“We are aware of their strategy which is being initiated by the G40 (the Zanu PF faction opposed to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe).
“That is why they are now talking about the so-called hearings in their party, but our people know that that is a charade.
“Besides, Zanu PF is finished anyway and there is no chance that they will bounce back. They are down and out,” Gumbo said.
Speaking in an interview with the United Kingdom-domiciled Sunday Times recently, Mujuru let rip at Mugabe, in her clearest sign to date that the respect that she once had for him has gone.
Describing Zanu PF rule as “a full dictatorship”, Mujuru also painted Mugabe as a “backward man” who felt threatened by her to the point of even working to frustrate her when she was his deputy.